The Americans with Disabilities Act celebrated its 10th anniversary last July with a look back at 10 years of progress. However, there is still much to be done. This month, we looked at access to government services by people with disabilities as well as public-sector employment opportunities for people with disabilities. We found four sources directly involved in both aspects of access and solicited their comments.
Curtis Chong is the technology director of the National Federation of the Blind.
"What were seeing now is the intent of the law becoming more firm. The Access Board (U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board) is doing a lot of work on the access information and electronic-technology provision of [Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973], and has come out with a notice of proposed rule making, which has not yet been promulgated as official. If it is enforced as the advocates hope it is, you will find in the procurement process that more attention is given to accessibility issues from the get-go."
"Youre not guaranteed when you walk onto that job, whether its federal, state or local government, that the software you have to use on the computer is going to work with access software for the blind. Just about every job you get nowadays will require you to run a computer. You can just about count on the fact that the agency youre going to work for doesnt have any expertise in this area at all, because frankly, if youre the first blind person whos ever worked there, why should they?"
"If we can get the notion across that the odds are that the stuff they develop will be used by somebody whos disabled, then they will begin to wonder how it is that their software should be made accessible. If they do this when theyre building it, we have a much higher likelihood that the result will work for us."
Charles Kaplan is the associate director of the California Governors Committee for Employment of Disabled Persons, a public/private partnership of volunteer members dedicated to increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The volunteer committee members receive staff support from the state Employment Development Department (EDD).
"Different disability groups have different issues, from the deaf community [for whom we need to make] sure we have interpreters available, to architectural access that the state architects office is working on.
"Theres a lot of state government offices out there and everybody has to go through their bureaucracy to get things moving along, but we work with the state architects office to try to make sure we remove the physical barriers and have the programmatic access. For instance, EDD has CalJOBS, which is our [state and federal] job postings, [and] individuals can put their resumes on it. Thats been something thats pretty accessible to all individuals."
"Another ongoing issue is Web site updates. There really havent been any universal standards. Everybody is looking at either the Department of Justice or EEOC for guidelines, but everybody sort of does it on their own and there really arent any uniform standards on the national level."
Leonard Kasday is a professor of electrical engineering at Temple University and faculty staff member on the universitys Institute on Disabilities. He also chairs the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative Evaluation and Repair Tools Group.
"One of the big obstacles is that technology just races ahead, and accessibility tends